AACS Awards

The Awards Committee of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS) administers the awards of the association and recommends recipients of awards for approval by the Board. The Immediate Past President chairs the awards committee, consulting with the AACS executive committee and the local arrangements committee. The “Call for Nominations for AACS Awards” was distributed multiple times via email to the AACS listserv. It was also posted on the AACS website for access by members and the general public, and circulated through the professional networks of AACS Board members.

Alex Boros Award for Contributions to the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology

About the award

Presented to an AACS member who has served AACS with distinction

2021 recipient

Steve Steele, PhD

Dr. Steele is the Past President (twice!) of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology, an organization for which he has worked tirelessly and enthusiastically for many years. He has also held a variety of other positions over the course of his career. Between 2001 – 2010 he taught college courses in sociology at the Patuxent Institute, a maximum security prison in Maryland. In June 2013 he retired after more than four decades as a Professor of Sociology and Futures Studies at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. He was a Visiting Professor of Sociology and Economics at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the public honors college for Maryland from spring 2013-2015. He also had a key role in the creation of the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI), an innovative program now in its third decade that supports applied research in the local community. Throughout his career Dr. Steele has crafted courses in applied sociology at the sophomore through graduate levels. He continues to lead others in creating vehicles for local research and development of community futures. He has been active and visible in applied sociology for over 40 years. Awards from Johns Hopkins University, the American Sociological Association, the Society for Applied Sociology, and the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology reflect his prowess in teaching and practice. His writing includes Solution-Centered Sociology: Addressing Problems through Applied Sociology with Annie Scarisbrick-Hauser and Bill Hauser (Sage Publications, 1999) and Applied Sociology: Topics, Terms, Tools and Tasks with Jammie Price (Wadsworth 2003, Cengage, second edition 2008).

Lester F. Ward Distinguished Contribution to Applied and Clinical Sociology Award

About the award

Presented to a person who has made a significant contribution to applied and clinical sociology over a period of ten or more years.

2021 Nominee

Jack Whalen, PhD

Dr. Whalen has exercised the application of sociology across a variety of positions for the past 40 years. His expertise lies in integrating sociological insights into projects that focus on sustainability, marine conservation, user/customer experience, design methodology, and information architecture. Following the receipt of his PhD in Sociology from the University of California-Santa Barbara in the early 1980s, he served as faculty in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oregon for more than ten years, including as Department Head. He then transitioned to several positions outside academia, including as Principal Scientist at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center. Dr. Whalen currently holds dual positions: (1) As Professor Emeritus of Design and Ethnographic Research at Aalto University in Helsinki, he is the Principal Investigator for an Academy of Finland-funded project, ‘Getting Collaborative Design done: An Enquiry into Mundane and Strategic Organising of Co-Design in 21st Century’. In his faculty position he is also responsible for teaching ethnography and user-centered design methods to graduate students in industrial design, supervision and tutorials for MA and PhD candidates, and workshops on field research for design projects. (2) As Programme Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, an international NGO that provides strategic and technical guidance to seafood suppliers and producers, he coordinates projects on small-scale/artisanal fisheries. This work includes analysis the socioeconomic impact of fishery regulations on Indonesian blue swimming crab fishers and the design of measures to mitigate that impact, along with developing a methodology for assessing the socioeconomic performance of fisheries.

The Robert Ezra Park Award for Sociological Practice

About the award

presented to an outstanding sociologist who has made a special contribution demonstrating how sociological practice (applied or clinical) can advance and improve society.

2021 Nominee

Jennifer Esala, PhD

Dr. Esala has been a Research Associate with the Center for Victims of Torture, an international NGO (https://www.cvt.org), since 2013. In this role she conducts research and program evaluation for the Center’s direct service programs in the United States. She also supports advocacy evaluation and capacity building initiatives with its New Tactics program. Her work addresses a range of topics, including identifying effective approaches to integrated care for refugees and asylum seekers; assessing the effectiveness of mental health interventions in diverse populations and across cultures; measuring the influence of race and ethnicity in mental health access and subsequent outcomes; developing usable evaluation resources for human right activists in the Global South; assessing treatment outcomes (and mediating factors) in the Center’s domestic programs; and measuring development for refugees and asylum seeker populations and for mental health organizations (stand-alone and integrated). Dr. Esala received her Ph.D. in medical sociology from the University of New Hampshire and previously held research positions at the Carsey School of Public Policy, the OMNI Institute, and The University of Colorado’s Clinical Translational Science Institute.

The Paul Wellstone Community Service Award

About the Award

presented to a person or organization in the community where the annual meeting is held. The recipient of this award will have made significant and noteworthy applied sociological contributions in the community they serve.

2021 Nominee: The YMCA of Greater Louisville

The YMCA of Greater Louisville, the organization serving as the client in the Client Problem Solving Competition at the 2021 AACS Conference, has demonstrated tireless efforts in working with local communities to foster youth programs, child welfare, education, community health, employment, and quality of life. Their Development & Mission Advancement Director, Dennis Enix, recognizes the breadth of social issues and the need to address social problems in the local community. Mr. Enix and the YMCA uses sociologically informed research to better implement their services to improve their agency’s goals, and is an excellent example of applied sociology in action. 

The President’s Award

About the award

presented to an individual for outstanding work in applied and/or clinical sociology. The president, in consultation with the awards committee, shall recommend the recipient of the President’s Award.

2021 Recipient

Joshua Tepfer, JD

Joshua Tepfer is Lead Counsel with The Exoneration Project and the keynote speaker at the 2021 AACS Conference. He has dedicated his career to addressing systemic racism and paving the way for transformative social change. A partner at Loevy & Loevy, he has represented the criminally accused since 2004, first as an attorney with the Chicago Office of the State Appellate Defender (2004-2008) and then as an Assistant Clinical Professor with Northwestern University School of Law, where he served as the Project Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (2008-2015). Mr. Tepfer graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004 and with a B.A. in Sociology from Grinnell in 1997. He dedicates most of his time to representing the wrongfully convicted pro bono with the Exoneration Project. Mr. Tepfer has been involved in the exoneration of roughly 65 men and women, and he litigates wrongful conviction cases all over the country. He has published and presented frequently on issues related to wrongful convictions, false confessions, police misconduct, and juvenile justice. He has appeared on many national and local news outlets discussing issues related to criminal justice. He is also a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches a clinical course.